On Jan. 6, Congress will meet in a joint session to count and validate the results of the presidential election.
What is traditionally a quick ceremonial affair is expected to unfold in a drawn-out spectacle this time, as a small group of Republicans say they plan to challenge the results, despite no proven evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Newly sworn-in Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, said she will be among the House members “voicing my objection.”
For a challenge to go forward, at least one member each from the House and the Senate must lodge a written complaint. The chambers then meet separately for no more than two hours to debate and vote. A simple majority in both chambers is needed to approve the objection and throw out a state’s electors. That is unlikely to happen, as the House is controlled by Democrats, and the effort is also being criticized by some Republicans in both chambers.
In a statement explaining her position, Boebert said “ensuring the integrity of the elections that take place in America is essential” to the country. She claims that “several states” removed voter safeguards during the 2020 elections “that violated provisions in their respective state constitutions and the United States Constitution.”
Boebert did not specify in her statement which states those were or what safeguards she believes were removed. Her office did not respond to follow-up questions asking about those details.
Rep. Doug Lamborn will also object, while Rep. Ken Buck will not
On Monday, GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn said he would also support the objection of the count for Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Nevada and Michigan.
"There were irregularities in ... some of these states," Lamborn told CPR News. "Whether it rises to the level of wide-spread fraud, I'd like to get to the bottom of that, and I don't have an answer for that."
Fellow Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck said he does not plan to object. Buck released a statement Sunday with six other GOP Representatives criticizing the attempt by their colleagues to overturn the election results in Congress.
“The text of the Constitution is clear. States select electors. Congress does not,” the statement read. “Accordingly, our path forward is also clear. We must respect the states’ authority here. Though doing so may frustrate our immediate political objectives, we have sworn an oath to promote the Constitution above our policy goals. We must count the electoral votes submitted by the states.”
Buck and the others did add in the statement that the elections in six states raised “profound questions.” Previously, Buck spokesperson Lindsey Curnutte said Buck “has not witnessed any widespread voter fraud in [Colorado] that would impact the results, and he can’t speak for other states and their processes.”
Wearing his other hat as the head of the Colorado GOP, Buck has tried to reassure his party members that Colorado’s elections are generally secure and reliable.
Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said he was very surprised that a member of the Colorado delegation will join in the objections. Over the weekend, a dozen Republican Senators said they would object to the election results. Bennet said that will “send a terrible message to the American people.”
“We’ve sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. And now certain senators and certain representatives, against the clear evidence of an election that Joe Biden won, are trying to disturb the results of the various states,” Bennet said. “It’s an outrage. It shouldn’t happen.”
No evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 elections
None of the Trump campaign’s allegations of widespread voter fraud have been proven in court and the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, concluding the election was secure.
While a handful of voter fraud cases have been discovered by authorities in swing states, including some cases of Republicans casting fraudulent votes for Trump, nothing identified was significant enough to change election results.
The campaign’s attempts to have tens of thousands of legal and legitimate votes invalidated have all been rejected by judges in numerous states. And the swirl of allegations have been shown to be generally untrue.
For example, Republican poll watchers were allowed in to observe ballot counting in Philadelphia and Detroit. There was signature verification in Georgia and Arizona (although other swing states, such as North Carolina and Wisconsin, don’t require it). And a Georgia audit confirmed the authenticity of that state’s absentee ballots.
The wide variety of election laws and procedures across the country goes back to the founding of the nation. The Constitution gives individual states the power to set up and administer their own election systems and to set requirements like whether to use signature verification and when to stop accepting mail-in ballots.
Last summer and fall, Congressional Republicans objected to Democratic election reform proposals as a step toward “federalizing” elections.
The upcoming electoral college objections represent Trump’s Congressional supporters’ last-ditch effort to hand Trump a second term.
Some Republicans in local and county government seats are also objecting to the results
The idea of overturning the election results has reverberated among some Republicans at the lower levels of government, too, including Merlin Klotz, Douglas County’s Clerk and Recorder. He posted online that the election results in seven swing states should be overturned.
“Write, text, email and pray for Mike Pence to do the right thing!” he wrote on Facebook, while linking to an article that argued Pence has the power to declare several states’ elections as illegal and discount their votes.
As clerk, Klotz is the chief official in charge of Douglas County’s elections. He did not immediately respond to a request for an interview, including a question about how he thought his message would be perceived by Douglas County voters. In the past, Klotz has insisted that Colorado has a safe and secure voting system.
Dana Torpey-Newman, chair of the Douglas County Democrats, said it was a worrying message from an elected leader.
“For him to suddenly act as if he has knowledge about voter fraud, that there’s no substantive evidence to support in other states, and then suggest disenfranchising millions of voters, it is so inappropriate, it is so dangerous and it really does serve the purpose of sowing the seeds for civil unrest and chaos. That is just not what an elected official should be doing,” she said.
But her faith in local elections was unchanged, she said, because she trusts the staff of the county elections office.
Republican leaders in state government have largely avoided the topic. Asked for comment, Senate Republicans’ spokesman Sage Naumann said it was the “wrong level of government” to weigh in. Outgoing House Minority Leader Patrick Neville didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Neville’s incoming replacement, Hugh McKean, had no comment on Boebert’s plan to object.
“I don’t, really. I have had my focus on Colorado elections and the process that we go through,” he said. “I can’t speak for the rest of the country ... but I think here we do a very good job.”
Challenging the election results in Congress is rare
Most recently it happened in 2005, when then-Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Democrats, challenged the Ohio results.
They said their goal was not to overturn the results, but to highlight their concern over “irregularities” on Election Day that led to voter disenfranchisement in Ohio. The Senate voted 74-1 against the motion, and in the House it failed 267-31.
There was also an attempt in 2017 when a handful of House Democrats voiced their objections, but that effort did not go far since no senator joined them. The objectors were cut off by a swift hammer of the gavel held by then-Vice President Joe Biden.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated with a comment from Rep. Doug Lamborn.